Kicking off Annual Planning and Budget Process with LibQUAL+ Results

Welcome to July!

For me, summer has always been a time to catch up, tidy loose ends, reflect, and prepare for the upcoming academic year. As with so many other things, I am learning that at Rutgers things are different.

As a cost-center, the summer is a time of planning. Our budgets and plans for the following fiscal year have to be ready by October. That means that our plans for 2018 have to be in place this summer. This month, there will be two Cabinet retreats to begin to establish priorities, look at potential projects, and consider budget requests. There will be many conversations in the coming months.

As we move into planning, one of the most important issues that we will address is the LibQUAL+ results. I talked about these a bit at the Spring Town Hall, but since these will be at the heart of our planning efforts, it is worth spending more time studying these.

Overall, our results were good. However, there was a consistent finding, across libraries and universities, that the Information Control dimension did not meet faculty expectations. This graph from the LibQUAL+ results shows the combined results for all 1,200 faculty respondents:

lib qual survey graph

This graph is from section 6.2 – Core Questions Summary for Faculty (page 73 of 13501-2 Rutgers University Libraries.pdf available on T:\CENTRAL\Assessments\LibQUAL 2016 Reports).

Here is a table form of the same information:

lib qual chart

The first column represents the minimum mean, the second is the desired mean, the third is the perceived mean, and the fourth is the adequacy mean.

But what does this mean? LibQUAL+ does a good job of showing us where we are doing well and where we might improve. However, LibQUAL+ doesn’t tell us why and understanding why is the first step in solving the problems.

When we look at IC-1 and IC-8 together, it is not clear if the problem is lack of collections or difficulty finding the collections. How do the website (IC-2) and access tools (IC-6) contribute to the perception that our collections are below expectations? These are not problems that are simply solved by purchasing more collections or by making improvements to the search functions of our website. They require a multi-pronged approach that balance collections needs and ease of discovery.

This year, using both one-time funding and new funding from the chancellors, we have made some substantial additions to our collections. These additions include:

  • SWANK Digital Campus subscription: 250 feature films selected by instructors
  • UpToDate: an evidence-based clinical resource
  • Sage Journals: Approximately 180 additional Social Sciences, Health Sciences and Science Journals
  • Wiley Journals: Approximately 880 Science, Technology, Medicine, Social Sciences and Humanities Journal
  • EBSCO e-books: 850 e-book titles selected by faculty and students
  • Springer e-books: Approximately 2300 Biomedical/Life Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
  • American Institute of Physics (AIP) Digital Archive: Digital backfiles of 12 journals and conference proceedings
  • Oxford Journal Archive: Backfiles of about 150 Science and Medicine Journals
  • Wiley Journal: Digital backfiles of about 800 Science, Technology, Medicine, Social Sciences and Humanities Journals

In addition, we eliminated the fees charged for requesting articles through ILL.

In the coming year, we need to continue to make smart decisions about new collections and resources and I am confident that the Collection Analysis Group and the Selectors are moving in the right direction. But we must also look more deeply into our access infrastructure, making it easier for faculty to find the information they need. Moving in this direction will take a large amount of coordination, an effort kicked off by the new discovery working group charge.

The LibQUAL+ results provide us with a tremendous amount of information and highlight opportunities for improvement. I expect that looking deeper at these issues will be a priority in the upcoming year and look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together.


Krisellen Maloney